A fitting celebration of two years' hard work completing ten online modules in Pastoral Ministry took place at Liverpool Hope University recently.
Representatives from every diocese in the Northern Province and from Wrexham, gathered in the Hope Chapel in thanksgiving for the 48 students who were presented with their certificates from the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University, Chicago, following a Mass of Thanksgiving. It was a joy to see all the different roles and ministries involved in a course which provided opportunities for lay people – 14 of whom are preparing for the Permanent Diaconate.
Dr Mariana Miller represented Loyola and gave a stirring address before Mass. She praised the commitment and quality of the students' engagement during this Pilot course and spoke of the importance of e-learning for adult formation: offering opportunities for a much broader group of people to access excellent resources and tuition in this developing theology.
All six dioceses of the Northern Province are now supporting the course, along with Wrexham Diocese, and there are 44 students currently preparing for their second year. The bishops of Hallam, Lancaster, Wrexham and Liverpool attended together with Salford Diocese's vicar general.
It is just three years since Dr Brian Schmisek, then Dean of the Institute of Pastoral Studies, invited adult formation leaders from the Northern province to a meeting in Leeds to consider the Institute's offer to provide a two-year online course at a competitive price. The offer included the opportunity to make significant input to the content and style of delivery and the possibility of involving some tutors from the UK.
Recruitment is under way for a third cohort and if you know anyone who would be interested in beginning the course this year, please ask them to make contact with either Sr Catherine Darby (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Veronica Murphy (email@example.com), the UK course coordinators, as soon as possible.